What’s on the Travel News Menu for October-November 2017?
1. A new 24-day tour in March 2018 covers the highlights of south and north India at an incredible price including all domestic travel and many grassroots experiences.
2. Passionate photographers will want to consider these week-long photography workshops in Cuba, learning from a veteran international photographer and workshop leader who knows the country well.
3. Is a visit to Peru’s Machu Picchu on your bucket list? Learn about the new regulations to better manage the nearly one million visitors a year, and about an in-country tour operator offering a more satisfying approach to this iconic site.
4. Tucson, Arizona is rated #2 among America’s Best Small Cities (under one million population), right after Honolulu, Hawaii. It is also America’s first UNESCO City of Gastronomy, designated in 2015. See why Tucson is a city worth visiting.
5. Being able to sleep away an airplane flight, especially in economy class, is an elusive dream for many travelers. Here is a new travel pillow with five options to suit your sleep style and increase the odds that you will arrive well rested at your destination.
Before planning your next adventure, you may compare accommodation alternatives with sites such as www.trivago.com or use their data base for further information about your destination and read traveler hotel reviews.
Check Travel Golf Guide. Play golf in Algarve.
New India Tour … Affordable and Extensive in 24 Days
It is no secret that India is a large and incredibly diverse piece of geography with an equally large and diverse collection of people, cultures and spectacular experiences to absorb. Most visitors will wisely settle for sampling one or two regions, but one small-group tour operator has been able to turn the impossible challenge of a top to bottom grassroots experiential exploration of the country into an exciting reality.
It is veteran Australian tour operator and owner of Incredible Indian Tours, www.incredibleindiatours.com Debbie Kindness, who has demonstrated her deep knowledge of and affection for India, acquired over many years of travel to every nook and cranny of the country.
“Our Incredible India Tour is a brand new journey (March 1 to 24, 2018) covering the highlights of both South and North India,” says Debbie. “If you only get one chance to explore this amazing country, this is the trip to take. We have made the incredible price possible by creating a slightly more budget version of our regular tours, while staying in comfortable, clean 2-3 star hotels and guest houses, plus a few luxury stops on the way.”
As usual with this tour operator, the maximum size is 10 participants which makes great explorations and small local accommodations manageable. The itinerary here includes 21 hotel nights, one luxury houseboat night in Kerala and one overnight on the train as well as domestic plane travel and plenty of mini-bus and rickshaw adventures.
In three and a half weeks, you will experience the vast diversity of this nation. From the gentle, tropical southeast, the temple towns of Tamil Nadu, French Pondicherry, and Kerala where waterways are the roadways for many residents, to the magical deserts of Rajasthan in northwest India, full of immense castles, palaces and forts. No trip to India is complete without visiting the Taj Mahal and spending time in the teaming cities of Mumbai and Delhi, India’s capital. But there is more with a pilgrimage journey half way across the northeast of the country to spend time in Varanasi, the holy city on the banks of the Ganges River. The amazing price for this adventure is US$2990 pp twin share, with single supplement also an option for US$4040.
We have two articles from our Travel Article Library to help bring this adventure into sharp focus: one is the experience of this same tour operator’s Essence of India Women Only Tour. The other is a spotlight on Kerala’s Backwaters made up of a network of interconnected canals, rivers, lakes and inlets, a labyrinthine system formed by more than 900 km of waterways. Kerala has been ranked as one of the world’s “50 destinations of a lifetime” by National Geographic Traveler magazine..
Travel to Cuba for One-Week Photography Workshops
International photographer and workshop leader, Peter Turnley, www.peterturnley.com, is leading four photography workshops in Cuba, between the end of December 2017 and mid-April 2018.
Besides being a well respected photographer who has captured many of the defining moments of world history over the past four decades, Peter is also an acclaimed workshop teacher offering photography workshops in Paris, London and Cuba for many years. He has been traveling to Cuba since 1988 and led photography workshops there for six years.
“Cuba is one of the most visually interesting, unique, and exciting places on earth,” he declares. “The amazingly vibrant, joyful and determined spirit of the people, combined with this moment in the country’s history, contributes to making it a fascinating place for photographers to visit. About 55% of participants are in the 45-60 age group, and possibly 25% are in the 61-70 age range. Most participants come from the US, Canada, England, and Australia.”
Cuba: New Years in Havana and Vinales: Dec. 30, 2017-Jan. 5, 2018 – $5,250
Cuba: Havana and Vinales: Feb. 10-16, 2018 – $5,250
Cuba: Trinidad, Cienfuegos, and Havana: March 10-16, 2018 – $4,600
Cuba: Santiago and the Oriente: April 4-10, 2018 – $3,975
A review of testimonials of people that have attended Peter’s workshops reveals how these have been transformative experiences. A large number of the photographers that have attended the Cuba Workshops testify that it had been a life-changing experience, both on a human and photographic level, exposing participants to the heart and soul of authentic Cuban life. Photographers are offered access daily to important themes of dance, religion, music, economy, farming, tobacco, medicine, education, boxing, and ballet.
There is much attention given to helping participants overcome the timidity and anxiety of photographing people. Each day, photographers are offered an itinerary of visually exciting themes to photograph, and there is also plenty of free time to wander the streets on one’s own, or with Peter and the three excellent Cuban photographer guides that serve as translators, fixers, friends, and inspiration. Daily transportation for all participants in the workshops is also provided. Most of the participants are very passionate about photography, particularly about street photography and photographing people.
Peter Turnley’s Cuba photography workshops and travel to Cuba for all participants are approved under the new US regulations for Cuba travel as of June 16, 2017. All participants are covered by the new regulations authorizing group people-to-people educational travel. Cuba Cultural Travel handles all registration, tuition, airfare between the US and Cuba, visas, lodging, transportation, and several meals. To sign up, contact by email Laura Adams of Cuba Cultural Travel, and indicate in the subject line the date of the workshop you are interested in attending.
For a taste of the colorful promise these Cuba workshops will offer, check out Peter Turnley’s coffee table book, Cuba – A Grace of Spirit (hardcover, 2015, USD$69) showcasing nearly three decades of his photography in Cuba.
“I have a deep love for the people of Cuba,” he says. “Throughout a lifetime of world travel, rarely have I been to a place where I’ve witnessed so much grace, spirit, dignity and wonderful humanity. The people of Cuba have taught and demonstrated to me so many beautiful lessons of how life can be lived well.”
New Tighter Regulations for Visiting Peru’s Machu Picchu
Britain’s TravelMole publication reported in June that new permits will be required to visit this famous visitor attraction from July 1, 2017. Since it is on many of our readers’ bucket lists, this is worth noting.
Under the new system introduced by the Ministry of Culture, each permit will only allow visitors to remain at the ruins for half a day, either from 6am to midday or from midday to 5.30pm. Those who want to stay for a whole day must buy two permits. Permits must be bought online from the Machu Picchu website or from local or an international tour operator with whom a visitor is traveling.
From July 1, visitors will only be allowed to enter the site with an official guide and each guide will be allowed a maximum of 16 clients. This new system will allow authorities to more closely manage traffic around the site of what is Peru’s most important tourism destination, attracting millions of visitors each year. For the first six months of the new permit system, Machu Picchu entry tickets booked using the old system for visit between July and December 2017 will be honored.
With the blessing of the Peruvian government, in-country tour operator, Kusa Treks, www.kusatreks.com, has designed a trek that combines the culturally-rich Lares Trek and the more traditional historic Inca Trail, ending in Machu Picchu. Because no permits are required for that route, more dates are available to start the trek, with a full day of hiking on the Inca Trail.
The founder of Kusa Treks is Erik Bayona, with a personal lineage stretching back to the time of Inca rule. With two university degrees, one in tourism and one in archaeology, he has guided on the Inca Trail over 400 times and loves to share visits to local Peruvian schools, textile shops, villages and farms with his trekking guests. Over 60% of Kusa’s clients are age 45 to 65 or better, encouraging the design of itineraries for older guests who wish to take their time and experience more culture and scenery vs. tackling rugged hiking trails with a dash to the top.
Airline Trivia: Pilots and co-pilots are required to eat different meals in case of food poisoning.
Is Tucson on your List of U.S. Cities to Visit?
In a 2017 Resonance Consultancy “America’s Best Cities” report Tucson, Arizona ranked an impressive second in the country in the Small Cities category (under one million to 200,000 population). Topped only by Honolulu, Hawaii, Tucson rated high scores for cultural attractions, museums, outdoor recreation opportunities and innovative cuisine that has made it a booming food mecca. This is welcome news to your editor who is happy to disclose that it is my favorite U.S. city to visit in any size category.
At a shade under a million residents in the entire metropolitan area, Tucson is easy to explore on foot, by bike (with 700 miles of dedicated cycling lanes), and by its new Sun Link Light Rapid Transit. This desert city boasts University of Arizona museums (including a biosphere) and planetariums, in addition to caving adventures and Old West tours. Its parks, safe walkable neighborhoods and landmark designations all introduce visitors to nature and a deep historic culture of lasting interest.
In 2015 Tucson was honored as America’s first UNESCO City of Gastronomy for its 4,000 years of agricultural history, work preserving biodiversity, plus the innovative cuisine of today. Whether you want to visit the city’s seed library, go desert foraging with a resort chef or tour family-run Mexican restaurants, Tucson’s food culture offers something for every foodie. The Visit Tucson website presents a full menu of opportunities to explore the city’s distinctive food and drink culture embracing both Mexican and Native traditions.
Located just west of downtown is Mission Garden, a living agricultural museum illustrating 4,000 years of continuous food farming on the site. That makes it the longest cultivated area in North America, tracing the unique history of domestic plants from the Early Ancestral period, through Native, Spanish, Mexican, Chinese, and Territorial Anglo-American cultivation. One reason Tucson received the UNESCO City of Gastronomy designation is because Mission Garden tells the story it does. It is open to the public every Saturday.
To learn about Tucson’s top-notch historic accommodations, check out this feature article in our Travel Article Library collection.
Upgrade to Sleeping Class!
For those of us confined to economy class on long airplane flights, anything that encourages comfort and even a little sleep is a mission of mercy. A new product invented in Australia is making its way around the world as we speak.
FaceCradle Travel Pillow™ , www.facecradle.com, provides 5 Modes of Comfort including the conventional neck pillow function we call Dozing Mode (1). Wrap-around neck pillows are designed to provide comfort when your head is vertical but that’s not how we naturally sleep.
FaceCradle Travel Pillow is designed for the total environment that is economy class travel. It allows you to utilize the complete 180 degrees of space in and in front of your seat, to find you the optimum comfort position. The 5 comfort modes access many new positions that allow your head to get to horizontal, closer to replicating the feeling of being in bed. The hammock style support of modes 4 & 5 plus the “breath easy” position which replicates resting face down in a massage table takes comfort to a whole new level. Bottom line is that you have five different modes with FaceCradle which is four more positions than a traditional neck pillow.
Once you become familiar with the adjustability of this travel pillow you can switch between positions a little like tossing around in your bed before you settle on your final sleeping position.
Modes 4 & 5 in particular, enable the person in front, to put their seat all the way back without bothering you and because your seat is upright you don’t bother the person behind you. The quick adjust mechanism allows you to instantly pack the FaceCradle back to its default neck pillow position (Mode 1) to allow those next to you to get out or for you to receive your meal/drink service.
This new travel pillow allows you to Upgrade to Sleeping Class™ and have every chance to arrive better rested at your final destination. When you have a long journey in a car, the FaceCradle can also be a lifesaver. Try it out!
Available in grey, black, royal blue and violet, covers are machine washable. Price is US$59 on the FaceCradle website, presently with free shipping. Average shipping time is 7 to 12 days. It weighs .72kg (1.61lbs) and is not considered to be part of your carry on weight allowance on flights. It comes with a strap so you may sling it across your upper body like a purse. The FaceCradle is guaranteed for life against manufacturing fault and any failure caused by such fault.
Images courtesy of Hairy Turtle Pty Ltd.